Short Takes: France

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Re: Short Takes: France

Postby arsaib4 » Thu Aug 24, 2006 9:05 pm

Betty Fisher and Other Stories was released as Alias Betty in the U.S. back in 2002. A wonderful film indeed, featuring strong performances from both Kiberlain and Garcia

Re: Short Takes: France

Postby A » Thu Aug 24, 2006 10:16 pm

Sale comme un ange Dirty like an Angel
(Catherine Breillat / France / 1989)

Like the other films by Breillat I've seen (36 fillette (1988 ) , ma soeur! (2001)), the films theme finally centers on a womans sexuality and her "process of emancipation" (if I may call it so). But besides the expected, the remarkable in this film is also Breillat's attempt at showing the everyday reality of a policeman through a rather careful depiction of his work in the first half of the film, and though I think she doesn't quite succeed in everything she wants to express with it (that means, there are films that do it better), the attempt at "realism" itself, regarding my expectations of her filmmaking, is worth some praise. The "second half" of the film is the territory we're used from her.

The plot isn't the important thing here, but let's mention that the policeman in question is played by an aged Claude Brasseur who falls for the young wife of his young colleague. During an investigation of the murder of a friend, Brasseur is able to get his colleague occupied for some days and starts a love affair with his wife. The ending is both cliched and honest, and the viewers reaction to it probably depends on the interpretation of the central relationship, which is presented in a richly textured discourse about - amongst others - gender, power, appearance, lust, dependence, truth, and the difference of individual experience(s). Above the whole lingers the questioning of an honest expression of love and our perception of it. The last shot is the obligatory freeze frame - very beautiful.
Great acting by Claude Brasseur and Lio (as the wife) in an interesting and rewarding film. Probably one of the films that get better with a second viewing.


I saw the film on TV and am not aware of any DVD release.
Personal rating after the film: 65 out of 100

Re: Short Takes: France

Postby trevor826 » Fri Aug 25, 2006 7:16 am

Thanks arsaib4, I've altered the heading to include Alias Betty though I much prefer the UK title.

I'll have to revisit Class Trip sometime as well since it's the only other Miller film I have.

Cheers Trev.

Re: Short Takes: France

Postby trevor826 » Sun Oct 29, 2006 9:41 pm

Due to a shortage of time I thought I'd add some notes for films that only require a short comment, this is the first of a few French quickies.

Pourquoi pas moi? (1999)

Directed by Stphane Giusti

Starring Amira Casar, Julie Gayet, Johnny Hallyday

A light flighty French farce concering sexual mores.

Set in Barcelona a group of French gay friends, three girls and a guy decide to invite all their parents for a meal so they can jointly out themselves. What they cannot know is the can of worms they will be opening once they have told them.

Along with the genuinely gay characters, one of their work compatriots turns up with her parents and tells them she is a lesbian for a cheap shock laugh, surprisingly (to her) they accept the fact wholeheartedly. Unfortunately her joke backfires when her mother admits to having had a lesbian relationship when she was younger. Her partner in that relationship happens to be the mother of one of the other characters (farce thrives on this type of coincidence), a fact that doesnt exactly please her husband who was quite happy accepting that his straight daughter might be gay, but his wife!

The reaction of each of the parents varies to the news and provides for some lightweight confrontations between them as well as causing a little aggrevation between the gay friends. But by the next day feelings and thoughts are clarified and most if not all the parents have reached some form of acceptance, the film rounds off with a fantasy type sequence with the parents, friends and lovers all united and happy.

The young cast are all attractive and the film rolls along very nicely, Pourquoi pas moi? wont challenge attitudes or offend anyone but it is a nice, entertaining and amusing farce with a fine cast and a fairly decent soundtrack.

Not essential cinema but it will almost certainly leave you smiling.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 15

Re: Short Takes: France

Postby trevor826 » Mon Oct 30, 2006 9:38 am

Another French quickie.

Ma femme est une actrice (2001)

Directed by Yvan Attal

Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Yvan Attal, Terence Stamp

A relationship drama with a humorously dark edge set in and around the film industry.

Charlotte is a popular French actress, her husband Yvan is a sportswriter and enjoys some of the fringe benefits of his wifes fame. Unfortunately he is also jealous of his wife, the constant bombardment of fans asking for her autograph plus the fact that she can book restaurant tables immediately whereas if he rings, hes told there wont be one available for hours really start to niggle him.

The opinions of other men concerning Charlottes on screen nudity push all the wrong buttons with Yvan. That and the fact that shell be filming in London with an actor who turns womens legs to jelly (Terence Stamp?) cause Yvan to jump to all the wrong conclusions.

A secondary story runs throughout the film concerning Yvans sister, her husband and the child shes carrying. Shes Jewish but he isnt, they are having a little disagreement on certain things that will affect the baby if it is a boy.

Needless to say, this is a comedy and everything ends on a happy note but you have to wonder, Yvan Attal wrote, directed and took the lead role, his partner was/is Charlotte Gainsbourg in real life as well as on screen. How much of this story has a basis in reality (at least in terms of his thoughts and feelings), when it comes down to it, probably quite a lot.

Nothing earthshaking or groundbreaking but a humorous look into the world of film and fame and its effects on relationships.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 15

R2 dvd released by Pathe, extras include deleted scenes and behind the scenes.

Re: Short Takes: France

Postby trevor826 » Fri Nov 10, 2006 1:24 pm

Le Dner de Cons (1998) The Dinner Game

Directed by Francis Veber

Starring Jacques Villeret, Thierry Lhermitte

Adapted from a stage play, Le Dner de Cons is an extremely witty farce centered in a Paris apartment.

Every so often a group of elitist snobby intellectuals hold a dinner party where they have to bring a guest. Unbeknown to their guests, each has been selected to be judged for their boorishness and idiocy.

Pierre Brochant (Thierry Lhermitte) a book publisher believes he has a winner in Franois Pignon (Jacques Villeret) who makes models of famous landmarks from matchsticks and talks endlessly about them. Pierres plans go awry though when he strains his back on the day of the dinner and is trapped in his apartment with nobody but his idiot for company.

What follows is a wonderfully performed, timed to perfection comedy of errors, mistaken identities, and a great series of twists involving Pierres wife and an unfortunately eagle eyed tax inspector.

There is absolutely nothing to fault in this supreme slice of farce as you are left to judge in the end, just which of this pair is truly the biggest idiot.

Perfect light entertainment with great central performances plus equally good secondary characters. Probably one of the finest farces youll ever see, tight and very well paced. In short, almost comedy perfection.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rating 15

R2 dvd released by Pathe, good crisp transfer with unfortunately, a complete lack of extras.

Re: Short Takes: France

Postby arsaib4 » Sat Feb 10, 2007 7:49 am

UP AND DOWN (France / 1992)

While Luc Moullet may not be as great a filmmaker as many of his French New Wave counterparts, hes been unjustly ignored, both at home and abroad, until recently (a traveling retro and a DVD box set have gone a long way to open a few eyes). This well-regarded Cahiers critic has made more than 30 films thus far -- many of whom are emblematic of his "passion" for American genre films (he was particularly fond of Fuller), as they demythologize them in an absurdly comedic fashion (not surprisingly, Straub once called him "undoubtedly the only heir to both Buuel and Tati"). Even though Up and Down (Parpaillon) doesnt quite belong in that category, in its own way it does humorously "deconstruct": in this case the French affection for bicycling. Reportedly inspired by Dadaist playwright Alfred Jarry's The Passion Considered as an Uphill Bicycle Race, the film is shot near Col du Parpaillon, an intricate and challenging mountain pass in the southern French Alps, where a bicycle rally is held annually. Like a few other Moullet efforts, Up and Down takes a little getting used to, but once one becomes aware of the films rhythm and structure, many small, delightful capsules are to be had. We learn that this year the rally isnt organized properly: the old-timers constantly moan about the lack of refreshments along the way, and become even more incensed when smoke-emitting cars whizz by (a couple, it turns out, driven by cheaters who simply unleash their bikes from the trunk midway through the ordeal). In an almost clockwise fashion, the film visits a plethora of amateur riders one by one, as they get mired in all sorts of predicaments. The humor -- both slapstick and witty, not unlike some of the Tour de France-related gags in the wonderful animated film The Triplets of Belleville (2003) -- is well-supported by Moullets uncommonly mobile camerawork, which also beautifully captures the scenic locales of the Alps. And the filmmaker heightens the stakes (metaphorically speaking, that is) with the long, dark and troublesome Tunnel du Parpaillon, near which the journey culminates. "For me," Moullet once wrote, "there isn't intelligence and stupidity, but intelligence-stupidity." That quote makes a little more sense after viewing Up and Down.


*UP AND DOWN is now available on DVD in the U.S. (Facets). It is featured alongside Brigitte and Brigitte (1966) on the same disc. Moullet's The Smugglers (1967) and A Girl Is a Gun (1971) are also out, while the wonderful Anatomy of a Relationship (1975) and Genesis of a Meal (1978) will be released in March.

Re: Short Takes: France

Postby trevor826 » Sat Jun 30, 2007 11:40 am

Une Liaison Pornographique (1999)

Directed by Frdric Fonteyne

Starring Nathalie Baye, Sergi Lpez

Short but beautifully paced and composed story told in retrospect. A man and a woman are interviewed separately with regards to an all too brief relationship they shared.

Having met in a bar through personal ads to share a sexual fantasy, the couple, nameless to the viewer and to each other employ a cheap local hotel to satisfy their desires and arrange to meet a week later.

These liaisons continue week after week and should have been just to share their fantasy but they each realise that their feelings are starting to go beyond sexual gratification, but still they remain nameless individuals, knowing little if anything about each other.

Despite lack of details they believe they can read each other, know what the other is thinking and this, in the end proves to be their weakness and downfall.

In contradiction to the title, the film is not in any sense pornographic. The woman coins the title using it to describe the original intention of their trysts, purely to gratify some sexual fantasy, nothing more. Most of their sojourns take place behind closed doors leaving the viewer firmly on the outside, its only when they decide somewhat bashfully to make love normally that we see them together and this is filmed very tastefully.

The acting is superb as you would expect from two performers of this calibre and I must admit, I cant remember Nathalie Baye looking more beautiful and sensuous than in this film.

One for connoisseurs of art-house films? Maybe, the set up and structure would make it appear so, but Id imagine this could hit the spot with a lot of people.

A definite recommendation.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 15.

No U.K. dvd release as yet.

Re: Short Takes: France

Postby trevor826 » Fri Jul 13, 2007 12:07 pm

Not Here to be Loved (Je Ne Suis Pas La Pour Etre Aim) (2005)

Directed by Stphane Briz

Starring Patrick Chesnais (Les Enfants du Sicle (1999), Anne Consigny (Lquipier 2004)

A romantic comedy that thrives on what it lacks, comedy and romance, apart from these it also lacks much in the way of resolution and redemption. It is well played, slow paced, contemplative, unpretentious, familiar yet different and the easiest comparison would be with the Japanese film Shall We Dansu (not to be confused with the dire Hollywood remake).

Jean-Claude works as a bailiff, one of those jobs that everybody hates, he carries on the family business from his father and has just employed his own son. Life for Jean-Claude is a trudge, dreary and empty, he despises his work, has no female company, makes the effort to visit his belligerent father every week and appears to be unable to communicate with his own son.

Most of his working days seem to be spent trudging up and down flights of stairs but after having breathing difficulties, his doctor advises him to take more exercise. Having often watched the tango lessons taking place opposite his office he decides to join, its here that he meets and gradually falls for Franoise, a younger woman who primarily remembers him as the son of her childminder. This chance meeting causes both to reassess their lives and relationships as they find themselves drawn closer to each other.

The film plays out in a very low key manner and for a French movie of this type is quite minimalist, though certainly not in comparison to the films of Aki Kaurismki or Tsai Ming-liang. Theres nothing truly memorable or outstanding about Not Here to be Loved but I found it far more enjoyable than another recent French rom-com, Orchestra Seats.

Cheers Trev.

BBFC rated 15 (for occasional profanities)

R2 dvd will be released by Artificial Eye.

Re: Short Takes: France

Postby trevor826 » Sat Jul 14, 2007 2:41 pm

LHomme de Ma Vie (1992)

Directed by Jean Charles Tacchella

Starring Maria de Medeiros, Thierry Fortineau

Oddball romantic comedies are a dime a dozen, they peaked many years ago with films from directors such as Howard Hawks and a film would need to be extraordinarily good to compare with these classic blasts from the past.

LHomme de Ma Vie is an attempt at this type of film, a pretty weak attempt at that, within ten minutes youll have the whole plot sussed so you may as well sit back and see if there is even the tiniest spark of originality within this tale.

Cute gold digger Aimee meets misanthropic book store owner Maurice, they connect but are both looking for something else, after trying a few different fits they end up guess where? Yep back with each other, now theres a surprise..:

Even though the plot is hackneyed, maybe the humour or travails along the way will make this a film worth seeing. Not a hope, the humour is laboured, the journey absolutely uninspiring, in short there is very little reason to make any effort to see this at all.

Now, even if the film was a cracker there is another huge negative that you cannot get away from, the soundtrack.. this is a 90s film but the music sounds as though it came from any of the shabby British comedies from the 60s and 70s, excruciatingly awful. Strangely though its not just the music that feels dated, almost everything about the film screams 1970s.

So is there anything even remotely watchable about LHomme de Ma Vie? Well, I must admit that seeing the gorgeous Maria de Medeiros, particularly in her red dress made sitting through this travesty just about bearable. Most will remember her for her small role in Pulp Fiction but Ill always remember her playing the French author of erotic tales, Anais Nin in Henry & June (1990), all I can add is, if it wasnt for her presence, I dont think Id have sat through more than 10 minutes of this effort.

Cheers Trev

BBFC rated 12

R2 dvd released by Bluebell Films.

To think, so many great films remain in limbo unlikely to ever be released on dvd while weak efforts like this are foisted on us, the consumers.


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